Posts tagged ‘summer’

May 6, 2013

Summertime White Sangria

I love sangria. Jim loves it too, and whenever we go to Mexican restaurants that serve it, we get a glass…or a pitcher, whatever.

I’ve always wanted to try making my own, but never have had the patience to let it sit overnight and all that. But when we decided to have people over for fish tacos for Cinco de Mayo, I figured it was the perfect opportunity to give it a whirl.

I searched through our wine “cellar” for a relatively inexpensive bottle of red that I didn’t mind sacrificing (of course there was the potential that this would turn out horribly and waste an entire bottle of wine), and unfortunately I came up short. I didn’t have a single bottle of red wine that I wanted to turn into sangria. So I switched gears. We had TONS of bottles of white because we both enjoy red just a little bit better (until summer comes around anyway), so I decided to make some sangria out of white wine instead.

We popped open a bottle of Rome Valley Vineyards‘ Chardonnay and started making magic!

sangria1b

Summertime White Sangria

The beauty of sangria is that you can pretty much put whatever fruit into it that you want. I mean sure there’s a traditional recipe, but you can make something completely delicious and unique to your own taste just as easily. I used a handful of different fruits we already had on hand.

2 oranges, sliced

1 lime, sliced

5 strawberries, cut in half, tops removed

5 thin slices of rhubarb

2 shots of triple sec

I bottle of chardonnay (you can use whatever white wine you like or have on hand)

Sparkling water (Mine was lime scented, and I used about 36 ounces, but you can taste as you go. It’s not a science)

Pour your wine into a pitcher. Add fruit and triple sec. Cover and let sit in the fridge overnight or for several hours. The longer, the better. When you’re ready to serve, pour in the sparkling water. Serve ice cold in your most beautiful glasses, garnished with extra fruit.

sangria3b

It turned out pretty dern delicious, if I don’t say so myself. Originally I wanted to use limes, raspberries and peaches, but they only had limes at our local grocery store…you know, the only one open at 10:30 when I decided I wanted to attempt this endeavor. I think I’ll try that combination next time. I’ve also heard people use ginger ale instead of the sparkling water and it gives it more flavor. I didn’t want the added sugar (or high fructose corn syrup. Yuck!), so I will probably always stick with the water.

sangria2b

Also this weekend, I finally got to play around with my new camera. It does a pretty good job, eh? Here are a few of my favorite shots of Katie that I took. She’s a hard dog to photograph, let me tell you! She’s like my brother when it comes to taking her picture. She always turns away from the camera! So the fact that I got these ones was a miracle in and of itself!

black lab

Isn’t she cute? Just chilling in the grass.

katie2b

This one I made a funny sound at her, so she tilted her head as if to ask “what the heck was that?!”

I hope everyone is having a happy Monday! Or at least a not-sucky Monday as Mondays can be pretty challenging.

Have you ever tried making sangria before? If so, did you use a recipe or did you just wing it like I did?

April 26, 2013

Polenta with Portabellas and Asparagus and a salad

I love a meal filled with complex flavors and textures. But sometimes a simple meal just hits the spot. Last night I made Jim and I a simple dish of polenta with vegetables. We both love polenta, and granted, usually when we eat it, Jim’s step dad makes it and fills it with mozzarella and covers it in marinara and it’s to die for! But it’s not the healthiest way to eat it, especially since we’re not really doing cheese anymore.

This simple recipe uses fresh ingredients and is still packed with flavor. It may have been enhanced by adding some marinara, and I’ll probably give that a try next time.

asparagus polenta2

Polenta with Portabellas and Asparagus

1 cup polenta

1 portabella mushroom cap, sliced

1 bunch of asparagus, cut into short spears

1 tbsp oil (I used truffle oil, but you could use olive or coconut or whatever you wish)

1-2 tbsps Bragg’s liquid aminos

Salt, pepper, garlic, to taste

Cook polenta according to directions on the package. It takes about 30 minutes and constant attention, so plan accordingly. Meanwhile, saute the vegetables in the oil. Sprinkle with spices and liquid aminos. Heap veggies over polenta and serve with a small salad.

Simple, right? You can easily add a protein or some Parmesan cheese to the top of this or it’s pretty delicious just the way it is.

asparagus polenta3

And I promised a salad.

This salad is simple, let delicious and accompanied the polenta nicely. It’s light and perfect for summer.

Steph’s Spinach Salad

1 large handful of spinach

8-10 strawberries, sliced

1 large handful of walnuts, chopped

1 large avocado, cut into small cubes

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp orange muscat champagne vinegar (From Trader Joes…you can use any vinegar, though. This one is just my fave!)

salt & pepper, to taste

Toss spinach with strawberries, walnuts and avocado. In a glass measuring cup whisk olive oil, champagne vinegar, salt and pepper. Dress salad.

spinach salad1

It was really a delicious and refreshing dinner. It kind of made me excited for summer, which I never am. Summer heat and I don’t get along at all. But this year I’m actually a little excited about it.

I love summer produce. We have the boat this year, and we plan on taking it out a lot. We also plan on taking Katie to the lake to see what those webbed paws of hers can do!

I hope everyone is having a lovely Friday!

P.S. I lied. I actually made this for dinner two nights ago. Eeeeeep! Don’t hate me.
July 10, 2012

Trying to get back into the swing of things

I love time off from work. It’s my favorite. I think I was at work a total of 2 days last week between the holiday and taking an extra day off and having work-related errands that kept me out of the office. But now it’s Tuesday and the “vacation” is officially over and I have to get myself back into a routine of actually being useful in the office.

It sure was a good week, though. Between 4th of July at the beach and family fun this past weekend and taking a little bit of time to relax, it was definitely much-needed time away from work.

On Saturday we got to spend some time with Jim’s family. His mom and sister and her family, his cousin and his family and his aunt and uncles. I got to hang out with this little one: the newest little niece, Charlotte. Isn’t she adorable?

(please excuse my apparent glare. I’m not sure whats going on with my face…it’s probably just due to my hatred for heat)

She spent most of the day sleeping. According to Tricia, her awake time is in the evening. It was only like 3 in the afternoon at this point, so she was still gathering her strength for a night of  keeping mommy up!

Seriously. Way too cute, right? She turned one month old today.

Charlotte has an older brother, Cameron, who is almost two (his birthday is in a month). Jim’s cousin Bryan has a son named, Cody, who just turned 2 on the 4th.  (Hold on, I’m going to go facebook jack some photos for ya!)

Cameron

Cody

That night we went out to Swabbie’s on the river with Jim’s uncle Ken. They had a band playing and we had some drinks and a bite to eat. Evidently they have the best tacos around, but I wouldn’t know due to my inability to eat the part that makes it a taco: the tortilla. They sure looked delicious though.

(You almost cant tell I am dehydrating, here, in the almost unbearable heat…”keep drinking”)

So, needless to say, after all that fun, it’s been hard getting back into the boring old swing of things. And now that I’ve stopped “working” to write this post, it’s unlikely I’ll be very productive for the rest of the day. It’s a good thing I got a lot done this morning!

Hope you’re having a lovely Tuesday!

June 22, 2012

It’s Farm Fresh to Me Day + Five Rounds of Acupuncture

My Farm Fresh to You shipment has arrived!

As I’ve mentioned before, once a month I get a box of organic, local produce delivered to my doorstep. Today’s shipment excited me….as most do…but this one included so much stuff that I love!

Isn’t that beautiful?

Garlic

Carrots

Plums

Peaches

Lettuce

Potatoes

Zucchini

Broccolini

Bell Peppers

I can’t wait to dig into this stuff and plan some recipes when I get home! Does anyone else loooove summer produce more than any other season? I can’t get enough peaches and nectarines and strawberries and tomatoes and zucchini and plums! Although I am a pretty big fan of squash and pumpkin and lentils and carrots and most fall produce too. I guess that makes sense, though, being a non-meat eater and all. Most of my diet consists of produce and grains. And cheese. Although I try to limit that. 🙂

Acupuncture

On a…mostly completely different note, I finished my fifth round of acupuncture this week. I can’t believe it’s been over a month since I stopped eating wheat and corn and started getting poked with needles once a week. I feel so incredibly different. I feel myself wanting to do things again, want to start projects, create things. I’ve started writing again (yes, I know blogging is writing and I’ve been doing that, but I’ve got sort of a its-got-to-be-big-or-it-doesn’t-count mentality. If I’m not writing a novel, it doesn’t count. I’m working on it. One thing at a time. My overachieverness is just going to have to wait for a tick). I’m feeling so much more like…me.

And it’s amazing to think a handful of needles once a week can help so much.

I’m going to post some photos now. If you hate needles and you are squeemish about it, don’t scroll further.

But I went into this thing knowing nothing about what to expect…okay, that’s not entirely true. My mom had told me about it, as well as my friend Christie, but I had no idea what the needles looked like or, more importantly, how big they were. And it’s really not all that scary, but I figured I’d share in case anyone else is curious or contemplating acupuncture, but is maybe a little afraid or intimidated. And I apologize for the crappy cell phone photos. I wasn’t about to bring my Canon in the room with me, so these will have to do…oh, and my mom took them. I’m not crazy enough to attempt that maneuver while acting as a human pincushion!

He has always put these two in my legs. Not sure exactly why but each point treats a different part of the body. The 4 he put in my lower back are supposed to treat fatigue.

This one is in the top part of my ear. You are looking from the top of my head. The white is the paper-covered cushion. This one is supposed to relax you. I’m not sure it did much the first few times…it’ll take more than a needle in the ear to relax that kind of anxiety, but the last three or so treatments were actually pretty relaxing.

Overall, the acupuncture experience was pretty…tumultuous. My first treatment was okay…the second was borderline traumatizing. The third one was surprisingly good, and the fourth and fifth were probably what they’re supposed to be: relaxing and a little rejuvenating. I’m glad that I did it.

Now if this darn knee would hurry up and finish healing, maybe I could get back into a normal routine of sleeping and working out and I’ll feel good as new.

Have you ever had acupuncture? If so, what was your experience? If not, would you ever consider it?